Darren Andrews (Steve Cheng, BRO)

Passing Game Starts to Get on Track

Apr. 7 -- The passing game had its best session of the spring, looking far more in sync and in rhythm -- with better pass protection. There is some drama, with a player kicked out of practice and the OL committing penalties...

This was probably the best day for the passing game since spring practice started. It appeared the offense put in some work before the start of team drills on timing, and it paid off. The pass protection was significantly improved, and the receivers and the quarterbacks seemed more in sync.

A good number of receivers had good days. If Kenny Walker could catch the ball like he did Thursday he'd have a chance to be a big-impact receiver.  He's so quick, with a great ability of getting separation, and today he made some nice catches, particularly on balls thrown out of his window.  Most of the quicker receivers, in fact, had good days -- like Darren AndrewsIshmael Adams and Theo Howard.  Jordan Lasley also used his body well to get open, and Alex Van Dyke made some good catches. Van Dyke is similar to Walker; if he can hold onto the ball, he has a chance. 

Aaron Sharp has been gone for a number of practices, so we're starting to suspect he might not be with the team anymore. 

Josh Rosen probably had his most efficient day passing the ball. He clearly had more time to see the field, and it showed. He completed what looked like an effortless throw to Andrews in the back of the endzone for a touchdown from 25 yards out in redzone.  There was a good mix of short and longer throws, and Rosen was really comfortable completing both.  Mike Fafaul had a solid day, too, making some good basic throws, along with a nice fade to Adams in the corner of the endzone.  

The passing game even looked more in rhythm and cohesive in the 7-on-7s.  

The running game -- and the running backs -- were again very good.  It was day that perhaps Bolu Olorunfunmi really stood out, looking punishing between the tackles, but showing good quickness on the edge.  Sotonye Jamabo started out slowly, with coach Kennedy Polamalu getting into him in individual drills, but he picked it up in team. 

Najee Toran has now spent a few practices at left guard with the 1s, with Kenny Lacy working mostly with the 2s.  Both have some talent but just need to hone some things. Toran is a good run blocker, but needs to improve his pass protection.  Lacy just needs to stay focused and consistent.  

It was a mixed bag overall for the OL.  They provided good run blocking, and perhaps the best pass protection yet this spring, but still committed too many false starts on the night. At one point during team drills, the OL got called for hands-to-the-face and a false start on consecutive plays, and Jim Mora was pretty livid, getting into it pretty good with the players and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm.

Poasi Moala, who has been with the 1s at right guard, was nursing his right hand coming off the field at the end of practice. 

The team portion of practice did a great deal of situational stuff -- not just 11-on-11, but redzone, goal line and backed-up.  In goal line, the new heavy formation of double-tight ends with a fullback looked pretty formidable, easily opening holes for Olorunfunmi to blast through.  

On the defensive side, the DL had a good day again. If you were going to pick the DL standout it might be difficult, but it'd probably be Takkarist McKinley, who had a number of good plays pursuing the quarterback and in run defense.  In the goal line drill, he shot through the line of scrimmage for a tackle for loss.  On another goal line play, Rosen rolled on a naked boot, and McKinley, who can really run, ran him down and pushed him out of bounds at the one.  

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Matt Dickerson, Keisean Lucier-South and Nick Terry also all had good days on the DL.  

The starting linebackers were Cameron Judge, Isaako Savaiinaea and Jayon Brown, and they were very effective together, each making a share of plays.  Brown, who has been the defensive MVP of the spring, though, did get thrown out of practice by Mora after targeting Andrews when he was pretty close to the ground. Mique Juarez was absent.   Josh Woods was still with the injured working on the sideline. 

There was some shake-up with the secondary, with Randall Goforth and Nate Meadors absent.  Jaleel Wadood worked with the 1s at cornerback, which might be a first for him, at least from what we can remember since he's been at UCLA, and he got a pick. Tahaan Goodman and Adarius Pickett were the starting safeties, and the two really showed some physicality.  Marcos Rios was still held out of practice but worked on the sideline. 

In the field goal kicking portion to end practice, J.J. Molson and walk-on Andrew Strauch continued to compete.  Molson hit from 20, 30, missed from 40, hit from 47 and came up short from 52ish.  Strauch hit from 20, missed from 30, but then made 40, 47 and 52. 


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